I have been taught that a good scientific mind always looks for confounding evidence and is open to myriad possibilities and perspectives. After all as Glesne (2011) explains in her section on “trustworthiness” in qualitative research, one must engage in “negative case analysis–conscious search for negative cases and unconfirming evidence so that you can refine your working hypotheses” (p. 49). Without such diligence, one’s research runs the risk of being both myopic and inherently flawed. We have to get out of our insulating bubbles to engage with contexts, viewpoints, and potentialities we would have never otherwise considered. Stated another way (as our instructors noted this week in our course), Gee (2013) underscores our need for seeking out diverse perspectives, “In a healthy society, diversity is honored because diverse people and viewpoints serve the same purpose as variation does in evolution. Such diversity expands the possibilities for new discoveries and survival in the face of change. A closed society, like a species with little genetic variation and too much inbreeding, is doomed” (pp. 117-118).
Taking all of this into consideration, I sought out resources to expand and enrich my information diet that would provide rich texts from varying perspectives for my own teaching practice as well as mine and my partner’s research into our wicked problem of rethinking teaching! For instance, I subscribed to the RSS feed of TeachHub.com and Education Week to expand my exposure to the multitudinous facets of teaching and not just high school world language education. Since Educational Pioneers does not take sides in the public/charter debate and focuses instead on improving the education of all students–particularly those from minority and low-income backgrounds–I added their blog to help me ensure that I would not overlook the challenges students from diverse backgrounds confront. In addition, I subscribed to the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2017), because their mission involves serving “..as a catalyst for 21st century learning to build collaborative partnerships among education, business, community and government leaders so that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops.” To me, this truly speaks to the issue of re-imagining or rethinking teaching. Furthermore, I added the Christensen Institute (2017) as they are proponents of “Improving the world through disruptive innovation.” My following of TeachersofTomorrow.org and TeachforAmerica.org will assist in my investigation of alternative routes to certification which will push me out of my bubble as a traditionally prepared teacher. The Hawn Foundation’s website was also added even though they do not have a blog/RSS feed, as their MindUp program speaks to educating the emotional sides of children and not just the acquisition of information.
While no deletions were made, the expansion to my PLN will truly benefit both my partner and myself in our investigations of rethinking teaching. Furthermore, my revised information diet supports my continued efforts to push myself as a world language educator concerned about his own teaching practice as well as the state of teaching at large. I truly endeavored to find rich and varied sources of information from diverse perspectives.
Yet, I still felt some conflict. Intuitively, I know that investigating all sides of an issue is crucial if we are to become critical consumers of information, but where do we draw the line? At what point is it OK to say, “I’m not going to follow this feed or link to this site due to what it stands for.”? For instance, I cannot in good conscience follow Betsy DeVos, as her family is notoriously hostile to LGBTQ people. For me, that is tantamount to supporting hate groups. However, she is the current education secretary. I can divorce her personally from her ideas. However, if I include people like her in my PLN, am I not complicit in legitimizing what she stands for? Perhaps each of us must seek as many perspectives as possible while maintaining our ability to look at ourselves in the mirror each morning.
Here’s a Storify with some of the videos and articles I’ve found on rethinking teaching.